I totally understand…

October 9, 2010

…how Eve must’ve felt. I mean, being banned from Eden sucks! I don’t get it? It seems there’s always an “Eve Convention” there, but I must’ve fallen off that mailing list. Was it the mangoes I ate? Should I have given them away to the less privileged? The mango-less? I just hope at least the serpent is missing me.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me tell you about the two bottles of Herederos del Marqués de Riscal 2009 – a Spanish white wine from Rueda made mostly with  Verdejo grapes and some Viura – that Cha got from Enoteca the other day. This straw yellow colored white has a very floral nose with passion fruit. Well rounded with a full body, the palate is passion fruit, citrus and the finish is close to unripe apricots.

A pleasant young wine that went purrfectly with the Stir Fried Shrimp & Romaine Lettuce. This time Madame Mrad didn’t have coriander, so basil and sprouts subbed for it. In a separate pan, sautée the shrimp with garlic and ginger.  Then in a wok drizzle olive & sesame oil, add ginger, garlic, toss in the lettuce and sprouts until slightly wilted, then dump in the shrimp. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, a tiny bit of fish sauce, sesame seeds and season with pepper. Ékhir shee, throw in the shredded basil so it doesn’t cook and stays fresh and crisp. Madame Mrad’s having so much fun playing around with this dish and giving it a different twist every time. Never a dull moment, n’est ce pas?

Ta’a w la tiji… Oh well, I still have hope that there’s an apple (or ashta) ripening on a tree waiting for me to pick it.


Just stretch those legs wide and…

September 27, 2010

…take big strides, is what I kept telling myself as I was hiking up Jabal el Sheikh (Mount Hermon bil Inglizé) last weekend. I spent two days hiking and camping with a small group of people led by Lebanese Adventure. Though Deedee’s not into group stuff (at least when it comes to hikes), she knows the owners and they promised this was a small and pleasant bunch, so she said, “Tayyeb, OK”.

Glad Deedee’s legs are strong, cuz it was a pretty tough hike, yaani I’d say 8.5 on a scale of 10, but totally worth it. The landscape is arid this time of year but the shades of yellow, pink, orange, and gray were a soothing combination. We climbed 11 km’s in about 5 1/2 hours until we were literally over the clouds!

We camped in a spot that was slightly dipped so as to protect us from the strong wind. After the tents were set up, it looked like aliens had landed a bunch of UFO’s in that spot. Dinner was being prepared as we watched the awesome sunset.

We had a black lentil mjadra/soup’ish dish and a crunchy mixed organic veggie salad that the wife of one of the guides had prepared. Deedee had a bottle of bordeaux with her, akeed, that everyone was happy to share: Château La Mauberte 2006 (Vintage in Saifi Village), well rounded and full bodied, this melange had a deep red berry nose and the palate was blackberry with red plum.

In the morning the view was crystal clear and one could see all the way to the Cedars! We took a different route back down and it was just as breathtaking as the way up. Tough on the knees though, so one may want to have sticks for support. Landing back in ‘human-ia/hu-mania’ was bitter-sweet.

When Deedee got back home, first thing she had in mind was a cold bottle of 961 Witbier, which definitely hit the spot. Madame Mrad took one look at Deedee and said, “habibti baddik téklé?!!” Looking inside the fridge, they found a packet of smoked Magret de Canard which got tossed in a frying pan to sizzle. They threw in some chopped garlic, sage (fresh if you have it), onions and sliced fresh chili on top. When slightly wilted, add chopped fresh tomatoes, crack pepper and cook for a bit. Serve with penne drizzled with olive oil and mix everything together… Garnish: parmesan shavings! Sage is just the right herb with the smoked duck… simple and Deedeelicious!

The bottle of Bodega Norton‘s Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Mendoza, Argentina (Vintage in Saifi Village) went hand in glove with the  Penne and Magret de Canard. A young wine and smells that way at first, it took about 15 minutes to breath and develop it’s character. Naturally as a Cab, this deep full bodied red wine has a peppery nose but with red current and even cranberries! A sharp mouthful of red plums… surprisingly, it’s not as fruity as South American cabs usually are.

Merci Lebanese Adventure mecs pour ce weekend incroyable. Not only did Deedee enjoy the hike, she also got to practice her French! Mount Hermon’s got to be a whole different kind of beauty during the spring with wild flowers and leftover snow, so definitely doing that hike again.

sawtak wati, ma ‘am bisma’…

September 20, 2010

… shee. Madame Mrad must’ve had something in her ears that evening cuz she couldn’t hear anything anyone said over dinner… or maybe she was just in her own world! 

W walked in with his signature bottle of champagne: G.H. Mumm’s Brut Rosé (non vintage), mainly Pinots. The color is a crisp orange-peach and the nose has a sweetness, like vanilla, with a touch of melon. The palate is refreshingly bubbly and dry with melon, and it has a long finish with strawberry written all over it.

L brought a bottle of PJ Le Petit Jaboulet 2008 Viognier, which coincidentally, Madame Mrad also had, so they had two bottles of PJ to enjoy with dinner. Last time this wine made it to the table, it had too many other competitors, so it didn’t stand out at all. However, that evening was it’s time to shine and it did. A straw yellow color, this white is quite a mouthful of fruit and a bouquet of flowers. Fun to drink with or without food.

The Menu:

Salad á la Mme. Mrad: romaine lettuce (finely chopped), shredded cabbage, parsley, seedless red grapes – halved, walnuts, rockefort (or feta if you like) and drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette.

Aunty K’s Lentils and Eggplant in Pomegranate Molasses… this time Mme Mrad added chopped tomatoes and parsley at the end. It was just the thing to give it that extra kick. (recipe in Yee, nawwarit blog entry August 2010)

Akeed Stir Fried Shrimp and Romaine Lettuce… Mme Mrad just couldnt help herself! (recipe in Too Many Cooks blog entry July 2010)

Figs Agrodolce, parma ham with parmesan shreds (the figs weren’t from “Eden”, bas close enough). (recipe in Makin’ out blog entry July 2010)

And endlich: Cherry tomatoes (halved), basil and feta cheese salad with a balsamic vinaigrette to dress it up.

Sahtein ‘a albkon!

Yee, nawwarit, nawwarit…

August 29, 2010

… said Madame Mrad as she welcomed her 6 guests to dinner at her fadstastic looking newly painted apartment.

She, in four hours after work, whipped up a scrumptious meal for her friends:

Aunty K’s Lentils with Eggplant in rib-rimmén (fry onions, add lentils and boil with cumin & salt until semi soft, then add cubes of roasted egglant, pomegranate molasses, and some chopped parsley towards the end); 

Simach w Marag (a Kuwaiti specialty: finely chopped tomatoes, loumi (dried lime), dill, garlic, coriander (fresh & ground), salt & pepper and cooked on low fire, served with fish- simach bil Kwaité). Mme Mrad likes to cook the fish in the oven and serve separately – though the Kuwaitis actually will throw a couple of small whole fish in there and cook in the sauce – your call);


Stir fried Shrimp and Romaine Lettuce (I couldn’t resist) – see the recipe in the previous blog entry;

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemony Bombay Potatoes – a recipe by Jamie Oliver and a touch by Mme Mrad who increased the amounts in the recipe, added garlic, and roasted the potatoes with rosemary, garlic & onions before adding to the chicken.

Basmati Rice to go with everything and aromatized with bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves.

Mme Mrad served two of her favorite whites that evening: we started with the 2008 Métis Sauvignon Blanc  from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – a deep straw color this wine has a strong fruitiness which complimented the food variety; and later the Marchesi di Barolo’s Gavi 2009, from Piedmont, Italy this light green lime colored wine was the purrfectly light smooth finish to the meal. You can find them both at Vintage in Saifi Village.

Piano Mama got Lemon & Toot (blackberry) Sorbet which Mme Mrad served with chopped up green apple & peach. We spruced dessert up with a bottle of Taittinger Brut Réserve, merci M: a light yellow, this refreshing bubbly was fruity with a jasmine/gardenia nose.

Yaani, shoo hal sahra el hélwé! ‘eedooa, eh?

On a hot and sticky…

August 26, 2010

… Sunday like the last one we had, best thing to do is eat light and drink something refreshing.

We cooled off with a bottle of Pascal Jolivet’s Attitude Rosé 2009 – Vintage in Saifi (sorry to tell you I bought the last bottle today, bas they’re supposedly expecting a new batch soon, so stay tuned). The nose was grapefruit and white plum; a cool light peach color, this rosé tasted like a fresh punch of apricots and white plums with a long ripe pear finish.

Z was hungry and needed to be fed, so I went for the easiest and lightest thing that came to mind: the Stir Fried Shrimp with Romaine Lettuce (cook the shrimp in a separate pan with garlic and ginger; then, separately in a wok, heat olive & sesame oil, ginger, garlic and toss in the Romaine lettuce . Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, a little fish sauce and sesame seeds; then throw in the shrimp and stir fry). This time I added chopped coriander, which gave it a kick of aromatic freshness.

‘Mashkoura wayid’ for the ‘balah’ from your garden in Kuwait, Z! Deedeelicious!

Too many cooks…

July 29, 2010

… in this case, concocted a fabulous dinner at Deedee’s.

A & O made Lychee Caipirinias. Nice touch. The lychees added a sweetness to the lime skin’s bitterness. Deedeelicious! Naturally, that put everyone in the right mood for the ‘culinary jam session’ that was about to begin.

Tamatim rolled up these magical Summer Rolls. Simple and refreshing, they were the perfect starter for what we were about to consume (carrots, cucumbers, spring onions, coriander and bean sprouts all rolled up in a rice paper rolls). Served with Garlic Chili sauce and Sweet Mango Chili sauce… or any other sauce you feel like dippin’ in!

O made his famous Thai Beef Salad. Now I have to say, I’m not much of a beef salad person, but what really did it for me was O’s secret sauce which consisted of fish sauce, a touch of sesame oil, soy sauce, lime and maybe even oyster sauce, to name a few. The salad combo is straight forward: tomatoes, cucumbers, coriander, spring onions, red & green chilis, beef tenderloin cooked medium.

Deedee made her famous Fragrant Green Chicken Curry (recipe by Jamie Oliver –  see blog entry July 25th). She also made J’s Stir Fried Romaine Lettuce recipe but added shrimp – olive & sesame oil, spring onions, ginger, garlic, toss in the lettuce and turn off the heat. In a separate pan, sautée the shrimp with garlic and ginger , then throw into the lettuce mix. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame seeds… et voilá!).

Last minute we decided to add another dish, as the party kept getting bigger, so A made Beef with Soy Sauce & Ginger (another Jamie Oliver recipe). We didn’t have Bok Choy or Spinach (as the recipe says), so we substituted flat Asian peas instead – which are crisp and sweet – and were just purrfect!

Wine with dinner came from Vintage in Saifi, again. The newcomer to the party was Métis 2008, Sauvignon Blanc from Trinity Hill Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand… with a French twist. Now, if you ignore the fact that it’s a screw top… I mean, to unscrew a bottle of wine is such a turn off for me… but, yeah, yeah, I know, you never get a corky bottle… still, somewhat anti-climactic!

Anyhooooo, it was just the right palate with our grub. A floral nose with hints of passionfruit, as are most sauvignons from the down under region, this SB (not Son-of-a-Bitch, I mean: Sauvignon Blanc) is yellow-green in color. The palate: fresh and crisp with citrus and passionfruit. Well rounded with a long finish… you just wana keep drinking it… which is exactly what we did!!

We also had a bottle of one of my faves: Marchesi di Barollo’s Gavi (which was the last bottle in the store!), then a PJ  Sauvignon by Paul Jaboulet, which unfortunately for PJ, was horribly expressionless after the Métis.

That ‘jam session’ was worth the dishes I had to do the next day! Always fun to cook with peeps who appreciate oral pleasures.

Makin’ out…

July 25, 2010

… I mean ‘up’ for lost time. It had been a while, after all!

MC got me some delicious lychees and black figs from Eden. I decided to experiment with the Figs ‘Agrodolce’ recipe – 1/4 cups sugar and water boil until golden and thick, add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and complete to a full cup with red wine. Then add garlic, fresh rosemary, salt pepper and lime zest (Deedee’s touch). Boil and in the end add lime juice and olive oil – you could even drizzle in some honey, then drop the figs in and let those babies soak for a while – overnight if you like.

Have them with Prosciutto di Parma, drizzle olive oil and garnish with parmesan shavings….

Yislamou idék ‘ala hal li’mé ‘l taybé!

That was for starters… we were hungry after that workout.

Our main course was Fragrant Green Chicken Curry – a recipe from Jamie Oliver. The curry is made of all fresh ingredients (coriander, basil, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, chili, spring onions, lime, olive oil, salt & pepper… add the chicken and then coconut milk, et voilá!)

I’ll leave dessert up to your imagination…